Speak English Around Town » LESSON 23 - Running Late

Running Late

Anna apologizes for being late to a meeting. Rich is angry that shes late, but their colleague Kyle suggests they stop discussing it and start the meeting.

Anna: I'm sorry I'm late. I hope I didn't hold up the meeting.

Rich: We've all been here since 9 o'clock. We've been waiting here for half an hour!

Anna: I'm sorry to keep you waiting.

Rich: Anna, I'm onto you. You're always late!

Anna: I was meeting with a client across town and that meeting ran over.

Rich: It's always one excuse after another with you, Anna. We've all got busy schedules.

Kyle: Rich, don't make a mountain out of a molehill. Anna apologized for being late.

Rich: Next time you're running late, give me a head's up, I believe you have my phone number.

Anna: I didn't realize that being 20 minutes late was going to be such a big deal.

Kyle: I suggest we get the ball rolling. We're already running behind.

Anna: Good idea!

Idioms
  • across town
    on the other side of town
    Example: The restaurant you suggested is across town. Can you recommend someplace closer?
  • big deal
    a problem; an issue
    Example: When Paul's pipes leaked and his kitchen flooded, it was a big deal.
  • (to) get the ball rolling
    to get started
    Example: Emily and Tracy came up with a great idea for a new business, but they're not sure how to get the ball rolling.
  • (to) give someone a head's up
    to let someone know in advance
    Example: Let me give you a head's up. Ben is going to be calling you later this week for some career advice.
  • (to) hold up
    to delay
    Example: If I'm not at your office at 11, please don't hold up the meeting. I'll come as soon as I can.
  • It's always one excuse after another with you
    you never take the blame for things, instead you give an excuse
    Example: Last night you couldn't clean up after dinner because you had homework. Tonight, you can't clean up because you have soccer practice. It's always one excuse after another with you.
  • (to) keep someone waiting
    to be late for an appointment, causing the person you are meeting with to wait
    Example: I'm a few minutes late. Sorry to keep you waiting.
  • (to) make a mountain out of a molehill
    to make a big deal out of something small; to get upset about a small issue
    Example: I already apologized for forgetting to deposit the check. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
  • (to be) onto someone
    to be aware of someone's behavior; to be suspicious of someone about something
    Example: I know Bill spends half his day on job search websites. I'm onto him.
  • (to) run behind
    to be behind schedule
    Example: The hair stylist told me she was running behind because her previous client showed up 20 minutes late.
  • (to) run late
    to be late; to start something later than scheduled
    Example: I'm calling my boss to tell her I'm running late and won't be in the office until 9:30.
  • (to) run over
    to last longer than scheduled (referring to meetings, interviews, etc.)
    Example: The meeting ran over by 15 minutes.
Practice the Expressions

Choose the most appropriate response to the following:

  1. Let's get started with the presentations now instead of waiting for everybody to show up.
    • a) Yes, let's hold up the meeting for everybody.
    • b) Good thinking. We should plan on running late today.
    • c) Good idea. It's time to get the ball rolling.
  2. Do you think it'll take us 45 minutes to get to the restaurant?
    • a) Yes, it's a big deal.
    • b) Yes, we' re running behind.
    • c) Yes, it's across town.
  3. This meeting was supposed to end at 3 and it's already 3:30.
    • a) So we won't be running behind today.
    • b) So we won't be running over.
    • c) So we've already run over by half an hour.
  4. Just to let you know, the company president will be dropping by our offices at 4:30 today.
    • a) Okay, thanks for giving me a head's up.
    • b) Okay, thanks for getting the ball rolling.
    • c) Okay, maybe he'll be running behind.
  5. Julia showed up two hours late this morning, and she was wearing a very nice suit.
    • a) It's always one excuse after another with her.
    • b) I'm onto her. She's looking for another job.
    • c) Thanks for getting the ball rolling.
  6. My meeting lasted an hour longer than I expected.
    • a) So you must be running behind now.
    • b) So you must be running over now.
    • c) So you must be getting the ball rolling now.
  7. I'm upset. You had lunch with our boss, and you didn't invite me?
    • a) That's right. I'm onto you.
    • b) It's always one excuse after another with you.
    • c) Please don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
  8. I'm calling to let you know I'll be a little late to our meeting.
    • a) Thanks for letting me know you're running late.
    • b) Thanks for getting the ball rolling.
    • c) Thanks for running over by 30 minutes.
  9. Yesterday I was late because my car broke down. Today I was late because my alarm clock broke.
    • a) Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
    • b) It's always one excuse after another with you.
    • c) I'm glad you gave me a head's up.
  10. Finally! You're 25 minutes late for our meeting.
    • a) Sorry to keep you waiting.
    • b) Sorry you're running behind.
    • c) Sorry you're running over.
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. c
  2. c
  3. c
  4. a
  5. b
  6. a
  7. c
  8. a
  9. b
  10. a
Answer Key
Language Lens: For/Since

Since and for both introduce periods of time.

=> Since refers to the time period when something began. Use since when referring to a specific time period, time of day, or date:
since 1995
since 11 a.m. yesterday
since last year
since the Renaissance

Examples with since:
We've been living in Chicago since 1996. (specific time = since)
I've been in Paris since last Monday, and I'm leaving tomorrow. (specific time = since)
Jen has been watching TV since 5 o'clock. (specific time = since)
Note: You will never use since + ago. We've been running this business since last year. (NOT: since one year ago)

=> For is used to express the duration (or length) of the activity.
for two years
for an hour
for decades

Examples with for:
We have been living in Chicago for ten years. (duration = for)
I'll be in Paris for a week. (duration = for)
I'll be out of the office for several hours. (duration = for)

Common expressions with since and for:
Joan has been studying Chinese for ages, and she still doesn't speak it well! ( for ages = for a very long time)
We'll be staying in this apartment for the time being. ( for the time being = for now; for a while)
Since when do you wear perfume to school? ( since when = When did you start doing that?)
Ever since you told me that Cindy likes to gossip, I haven't told her anything. (ever since = starting when; since the time when)

Quick Quiz

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. Michelle has been studying Spanish _____ five years.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  2. Roger has had the flu _____ last Wednesday and hasn't been able to go to work.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  3. Paul will be studying at Harvard _____ another semester.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  4. I haven't been to St. Petersburg _____ 2004.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  5. Greg has worked at Dell _____ ten years.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  6. Hank's Electronics has been in business _____ 1969.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  7. Juan has lived in the United States _____ five years.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  8. Bob has been in London _____ last Tuesday.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  9. I'll be out of the office _____ 10 days.
    • a) since
    • b) for
  10. _____ when did you start wearing jeans to work?
    • a) Since
    • b) For
Answer Key
  1. b
  2. a
  3. b
  4. a
  5. b
  6. a
  7. b
  8. a
  9. b
  10. a
Answer Key
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